Category Archives: Visual Arts

A Volunteer’s Progress

Dominique Dunand-Clarke reflects on her time with MPA (so far)!

On a warm April morning in 2011 I crossed the park and climbed the steep hill to Clitheroe Castle, I was going to take part in an arts project which I knew involved the Castle, a composer and a recording of my voice as I hummed a song. As somebody who has never listed singing as one of my talents I was a little apprehensive. I soon realised I needn’t have been when I met Rebecca Alexander and Lucy Green, two members of the Mid Pennine Arts team, who were very friendly and put me at my ease as well as assuring me that however bad my singing was the talented compositional skills of Ailís Ní Ríain would transform the sound!

My first day at MPA

The project was called Taken and Ailís did indeed create a beautiful sound installation from the donated hums of the local people who took part, which was played in the castle keep for a year and transformed the space. While I was at the castle I plucked up the courage to ask Lucy and Rebecca if I would be able to volunteer for Mid Pennine Arts to gain some experience while I was at university.

I am glad I did because three years later and I’m still here and have gained experience in an extremely wide variety of areas including: assisting artists with research to dressing as an Elizabethan Lady of the Manor; updating MPA’s website to hanging photographs outdoors in the rain, on a windy day in Burnley’s town centre, which as most people who work in the arts will know, is a very useful skill to master.

A windy day in Burnley.

While volunteering for MPA I have had the opportunity to gain training such as being qualified to deliver the bronze and silver arts awards as well as learning about marketing and project management. After I graduated from university and was looking for employment within the arts it was invaluable to be volunteering for an organisation with so many contacts within the arts community and my work with MPA certainly enabled me to apply for my current job in arts management.


Volunteering has been a hot topic recently with questions raised about how helpful it is to volunteer as an unemployed young person. I would say that if you volunteer for the right organisation you get back what you put in. Mid Pennine Arts has certainly been the right organisation for me and I am still enjoying my varied role here, the best part of it being that I am never bored!

If you would like the opportunity to find out more about volunteering with Mid Pennine Arts, do not hesitate to email me. I am normally in the office every Friday however I will be out of the office on Friday 17th and Friday 24th of January.


Portraits of the Past

Starting in the summer this project, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, has been exploring Gawthorpe Hall through oral history, photography and the creative arts, in a project we’re calling Portraits of the Past.

Gawthorpe Hall is much loved by the Padiham and Burnley community who surround it.  The historic property also currently hosts Catherine Bertola’s contribution to our Contemporary Heritage series, entitled Flicker.  We asked for people to share their photographs of Gawthorpe to develop an online archive, and to let us record their memories of time spent there to create oral histories that will be stored at the North West Sound Archive.  The project is ongoing with schools’ work starting later in the autumn but we had some fabulous days in August and September that we’d like to tell you about.

In August we had two days of family friendly activities on the lawn outside the Gawthorpe Hall entrance.  On both occasions we were joined by David and Andrew from the sound archive who eagerly recorded visitors to the event.  We were also pleased to have members of Padiham & District Photographic Society with us, who introduced visitors to their work as well as some fantastic antique cameras kindly loaned by the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester.     PoP day - 21.8.13 5

To encourage the budding photographers of tomorrow (and their parents), on the 21st artist Cath Ford ran a workshop making miniature cameras out of scrap materials which went down a storm.  All afternoon you could see children wandering around the grounds proudly wearing or pretending to take Image by C Ford - participant in activity day - 21.8.13 - 2pictures with their matchbox creations.  There were also photo scavenger hunts for those with a working camera or camera phone!

On the 28th artist Caroline Eccles held a mask making workshop as well as providing a huge dressing up box which young and not so young couldn’t resist, the fake moustaches were particularly popular!  Once the masks and costumes were on everyone had a lot of fun posing for pictures in front of the hall.  Joss joined us for the day as a volunteer and took some wonderful pictures of the action.

Image by C Eccles - participant in activity day - 28.8.13 IMG_0518

In September we had a wonderful day at Padiham Library and Gawthorpe Hall concentrating on collecting oral histories.  Once again David and Andrew from NW Sound Archive joined us and were kept busy recording memories, new and old, of times spent at the Hall.  In the morning Alison and Carole Alison and Carole - Padiham Libraryat the library organised a coffee morning and were so welcoming to us and all those who visited, we lost count of how many brews they made!  They had been very busy persuading library users to visit on the day and tell us their stories.  Most people were rather bashful at the idea; we heard many times that, ‘you won’t be interested in me’.  But they were wrong and once Melanie and Dom had enticed them with cakes and a brew they all relaxed enough to make a recording.  We were also made very welcome Bob - Padiham Libraryby Ann and Bob at the Padiham Archive which, along with the library, is part of the town hall.  They are custodians of a huge number of artefacts ranging from the everyday to items of important historical significance.  If you’re interested in the history of Padiham you should pay them a visit, there isn’t anything about the town that they don’t know!

In the afternoon David Smith joined Dom, Andrew and David at Gawthorpe Hall for the Heritage Open Day.  It was an extremely busy afternoon at Gawthorpe and Rachel and her team very kindly set us up in the Dining Hall where we were perfectly placed to draw in visitors who had tales to share.  Of the stories we’ve recorded so far some cover every day uses of the hall and grounds as a place to walk the dog or picnic with the family, others recall working there when it was a family home and others of childhood encounters with Lady Shuttleworth.  They are all fascinating and equally worthy of a place in the Portraits of the Past oral history collection.

Thank you to everyone who has participated so far.  You can add your own photographs to the online archive here or get in touch with us if you need help doing that.  If you have any memories of Gawthorpe Hall you want preserved get in touch with us and we’ll send the boys from NW Sound Archive round!

There’s a lot more to come as artists work with schools this autumn term, so look out for further blogs.  In the meanwhile huge thanks to the North West Sound Archive, Gawthorpe Hall, Padiham Library, Padiham & District Photographic Society, Padiham Archives, MOSI and of course our funders, the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Image by C Ford - participant in activity day - 21.8.13

Opportunities for accomplished project managers at Mid Pennine Arts

Mid Pennine Arts is recruiting.   We need additional support to help us maintain and extend our busy portfolio of creative learning and community engagement projects.  We are therefore seeking one or more experienced, versatile project managers, initially on short term agreements, but with the opportunity to develop longer term relationships.  If you have a strong track record of developing and delivering high quality, project-based work, and would like to contribute to the work of our team, we would love to hear from you.

About Us

MPA is the commissioning agency based in Pennine Lancashire and developing projects across Lancashire and beyond.  We commission high quality creative work through a variety of collaborations and in response to the distinctive contexts of our natural, built and social environments.  Our projects interrogate and celebrate what is unique about our area, our heritage and our communities.  We aim to originate exciting creative work that has lasting impact for participants, audiences and our project partners.  MPA brings art, people and places together to transform perceptions and change lives.

MPA was established in 1966 and has a long and proud track record of working in our communities.  Our work is centred on contemporary visual arts but uses a broad creative palette.  MPA has developed specialisms in commissioning work in landscape and public spaces and in heritage settings.  Our portfolio of recent work has included the Panopticons contemporary landmarks and the Contemporary Heritage series of major new commissions in heritage locations.  All of our projects include dimensions of engagement and learning for young people and adults.

Over many years we have built up a reputation for high quality work especially with schools and young people.  MPA works with some 60 schools each year.  In 2013 our creative learning team have made advisory visits to 90 schools, working in partnership with the ACE Bridge Organisation, Curious Minds, as cultural advocates for Lancashire.

Key partners for MPA projects have recently included local authorities, Lancashire Museums, environmental agencies and our fellow arts organisations.  We believe strongly in collaboration and all of our work is developed through a variety of partnerships.

MPA attracts funding from a variety of sources, including Arts Council England, Lancashire County Council and lottery distributors.  With less revenue funding now available, we generate funds project by project, from multiple sources, to help sustain our organisation.  All our team contribute to this effort, which is vital to our future.

Our Team

MPA maintains a multidisciplinary team to originate, curate and project manage our busy programme.  In autumn 2013 a number of circumstances will be reducing this team, but MPA’s programme will be busier than ever.  So we are seeking additional support.

We have a number of projects already in progress and further exciting projects in development.  So we want to reinforce our team as soon as we can.  We are therefore seeking experienced, versatile individuals who might be available at relatively short notice to contribute to our team over the next few months.

Our Programme

Projects already confirmed include these:

  • Portraits of the Past – an extended engagement programme built around our Contemporary Heritage commission at Gawthorpe Hall and celebrating the place of this Jacobean gem in the life of the local community.
  • Youth Music – Two new projects resourced by this lottery fund and engaging groups of young people and early years children.
  • Creative Communities – A programme of structured volunteering for young adults, funded by Awards for All, providing opportunities to work with us on a variety of exciting projects.
  • Burnley Rivers – Partnership work with the Urban Rivers Enhancement Scheme to celebrate the Brun and the Calder.

In addition a number of projects in development are likely to add to our workload in the near future:

  • Contemporary HeritageMajor new commissions for 2014 and beyond, and engagement programmes to support them.
  • Spodden Valley Revealed – Creatively interpreting the ancient and modern heritage of the area around Whitworth.
  • The Three Towers – A strategic partnership programme to celebrate the heritage and realise the destination potential of the West Pennine Moors.
  • Super Wet Way – Participation in a major new partnership programme themed around the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, with Canal & River Trust, our fellow arts organisations and others.
  • Truce – An engagement programme for Accrington throughout 2014, marking the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War.

We will also be continuing to originate projects and develop partnerships.

The Opportunity

We would like to identify probably two individuals to join our team on a part-time, short term, contract basis.  Initially we are able to offer a term of around three months, but we are looking to identify contributors with whom we can establish a relationship for the longer term.  In the future, we anticipate maintaining a more flexible workforce that can adapt swiftly to changing circumstance, so we are keen to build a group of regular associates.

Terms are flexible according to experience, but as a guide we envisage basing the remuneration on a full time salary of £20,000 to £23,000 (pro rata) for a commitment of around 2.5 to 3 days per week over three months.  This is open to negotiation for the self-employed and for exceptional candidates.  Proven capacity to help generate further income may be an influential factor.

Person Specification

The individuals we seek will be able to evidence certain core skills:

  • Substantial experience of managing complex or extended projects.
  • Experience of working with a wide variety of people.
  • Accustomed to building partnerships and working collaboratively.
  • Excellent written communication skills, and ability to produce convincing funding proposals and project reports.
  • Highly organised, capable of multi-tasking and prioritising a busy workload.
  • A self-starter able to identify opportunities and realise them.
  • A team player who will enjoy working collaboratively within the MPA team.
  • An understanding of our geographical area (social-economic context) or of comparable communities.

In addition, you should have one or more specialism(s) that will be particularly relevant to our programme of work:

  • Creative learning work, with an understanding of the National Curriculum and experience of key programmes like Arts Awards and Artsmark.
  • Contemporary visual arts, with experience of curating work outside of the gallery setting.
  • Experience of work in landscape, the natural environment and rural contexts.
  • Community engagement, with a range of resources for effectively involving groups and individuals in creative projects.
  • A focus on heritage and the rich fund of creative possibilities that it offers.
  • Issues around sense of place, destination and local identity.

How to Apply

If this sounds like you, we would love to hear from you.

Please apply, using our standard job application form (downloadable from our website) to highlight your most relevant experience and your reasons for wanting to work with MPA.  You should attach an up to date CV, and a covering letter if you wish.  Please submit by email only to:

Please submit your application by Friday 30 August.  There is no formal timetable for recruitment, but we aim to act without delay.  We will acknowledge all applicants.  If you are shortlisted, we will invite you for interview as soon as can be arranged.

To find out more about us and our projects look at our website, Facebook page and Vimeo channel.  If you have any questions about our work or this opportunity, please contact Melanie Diggle, MPA Finance & Admin Director, as above, or on 01282 421986.

Quite possibly the best ice-cream in the world…

“Where do you go to find the best ice-cream in the world?” I asked our dear friend Naomi De Maio.  “Italy, of course!!!” she said, without a hint of prejudice….

So, off I went to the weekend Ice-cream Festival in Florence.  And a bit of culture on the side.  I can‘t cover everything but here are some snapshots….

DSC00752 - DS Italy2Head towards the River Arno, go over the Ponte Vecchio and have a wander to your right. Discover the Church of Santa Mariadel Carmine.  Once inside there is only one place to look: the frescoed walls of Cappella Brancacci, the work of three painters.  They take you through the scriptures beginning with the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden to the crucifixion and later the release of Saint Peter. You really can see the difference in styles from the decorative work of Masolini to the emotionally challenging pieces by Masaccio and Lippi. The visual impact is staggering.

Now move north towards the university district and the Convent of San Marco.  You are close to the original Michelangelo statue of David in the Academia – not the outdoor copy in the centre of the city. But if you haven’t booked online in advance, do you really have three hours to wait to buy a ticket?  Back to the Convent, a convent inhabited by Dominican monks – now there’s a story!  There is so much to see but we are going to the 43 cells used by the monks and it is worth going into each one.  Each has a single devotional fresco all on the theme of the life of Christ painted by Fra Angelico over 550 years ago.  Some monks were luckier than others in what confronted them when they woke up each morning.  If I had been a Dominican I would have preferred to pay a little extra for bed & breakfast because I’d rather wake up each morning to the Resurrection than the blood of Christ pooling amongst skulls at the foot of the cross.  As you scan the artwork at San Marco it is amazing where you find the Dominicans: at the Nativity, at the foot of the Cross and even at the Last Supper – eat your heart out Dan Brown!

A day’s rest from FlDSC00752 - DS Italy3orence took me to Sienna.  We are passing the Piazza del Campo where the horses race, past the Duoma to the cathedral’s crypt.   Here there is a stunning piece.  A portrait of a beautiful young man: Caravaggios’ Saint John the Baptist.    It is strikingly beautiful. “If that is John the Baptist, then I’m Popeye!”  said the American tourist standing next to me.  Popeye, Caravaggio’s boy lover or Saint John; it is still very, very beautiful; sensual and religious at the same time.

DSC00752 - DS Italy

…and of course, wherever you find yourself there is much, much more…

…and the best ice-cream in the world?  Of course Naomi was right: a small  gelateria on the Via Dei Biffi, a tiny street three minutes from Piazza del Duomo in the centre of Florence.

Now then, some advice if you want to enjoy the art in Florence whilst you wait for your ice-cream:

–       If you went to Sunday School just remind yourself by reading one of the gospels. If you didn’t go to Sunday School then read all of them.  Even then you will be surprised when you come across references to the Gospel of Nicodemus!

–       You also need to revisit the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Old Testament.

In other words do your homework before you go!

Contemporary Heritage Launch Events Defy the Weather!

With two launch events on subsequent weekends in March the MPA team, artists and venue staff have been working flat out to have everything ready on time.  All was planned down to the last detail including preparations for rainy spring weather.  What we got was two weekends of bitterly cold winter weather including serious snowstorms for the second opening.  Despite this everything went ahead, with the addition of extra layers, hats, scarves and gloves!

K-Scope at Turton Tower on Saturday 16 March

Turton Tower is a wonderful gem of a venue that is a delight to explore.  Owl Project‘s installation there is in the library and the gardens.  As the rooms are rather small we thought we’d have a marquee in the beautiful gardens for refreshments, speeches etc, not realising just how cold it would be.  Thankfully our guests are a hardy lot and over 80 turned up for the event and enjoyed the hot coffee and cupcakes provided by the team at the Tower’s cafe.  We were especially pleased that so many brought their children with them as K-Scope is an ideal contemporary art installation for young people.  The wooden analogue Listening to a speaker horncomputer in the library is interactive, you need to turn the handle to see it come alive, so kids (big and small) loved that and there was a queue for much of the afternoon.  As for the listening horns in the gardens, all the guests were fascinated by what they could hear.  Was it really the sound of James Kay’s amazing subterranean workshop?

MPA’s Creative Director, Nick Hunt, acted as master of ceremonies for the launch and we were delighted to be joined by Steph Murfin, Pennine Lancashire Museums Curator of Applied Arts, who talked about the ‘Wonderful Things’ campaign which is celebrating the amazing, weird and wonderful collections and stories of Pennine Lancashire Museums.

K-ScopeThe final speaker was Simon Blackmore, one of the three artists, along with Antony Hall and Steve Symons, that make up Owl Project.  He explained the research and development that had taken place that had lead to the creation of K-Scope which gave a fascinating insight into the history of Turton Tower.  Simon, Antony and Steve spent the rest of the afternoon talking to people about the work and demonstrating how it works, which was much enjoyed by the guests.

Flicker at Gawthorpe Hall on Saturday 23 March

On Friday 22nd we woke to snow storms, snow drifts and freezing cold weather.  After much deliberation of the logistical problems (staff being able to get to Gawthorpe to open it, for example) we decided to go ahead.  120 people had booked to come to the launch and in all honesty we thought less than a quarter would make it, so we were delighted when over 80 people joined us to celebrate the opening of this beautiful and emotive work.  Many of the volunteers from the photoshoot, which was integral to the work, joined us and enjoyed trying to spot themselves in the finished installation.  Unfortunately the artist, Catherine Bertola, wasn’t able to make the journey from the North East and was very disappointed not to be there. However we were lucky to have some other very special guests who helped us open the work.  Nick Hunt acted as MC again and introduced: Bruce Jackson, County Heritage Manager, Lancashire CC; Jane Beardsworth, Regional Director, Arts Council England and Co Cllr John Shedwick, Chairman of Lancashire CC who did the official honours of declaring the installation open.  In lieu of Catherine, MPA’s Project Manager for Contemporary Heritage, Lucy Green spoke and thanked all the many volunteers, partners and funders who have made Flicker possible.  It was a bitter sweet moment as it was Lucy’s last day with MPA (she’s moving to Contact Theatre, Manchester) and a bit emotional for the rest of the team.

FlickerWe were delighted with the reaction to Flicker and how worthwhile the guests thought their journey through the snow had been.

As with K-Scope at Turton Tower many of the guests had not visited the venue before and as well as enjoying the contemporary art had discovered a fascinating heritage venue that they will visit again.  The perfect response to a Contemporary Heritage installation.

More Arts Awards – Our Reviews

Young people involved in our Lost Legends project have been experiencing art, most recently by exploring a sculpture trail. Here are their more detailed reviews of their experience as arts audience members. To help them achieve their Bronze Arts Awards please leave a comment about their reviews below.

Emily Brown:

The event was a Pendle Sculpture trail at Aitkin Wood. The artform was Sculpture. The pieces were made by a number of local artists, the main artist was Philippe Handford. The art trail displayed was made from natural materials in the wood.

I went to this event to gain more information about the Pendle Witches for our project. Some sculptures linked with stories of the Pendle Witches. I liked how the sculpture trail was outside linking with the natural materials the art was made from. I especially liked the sculptures of the falling tree as something good was  made from something useless. I didn’t like how the trail wasn’t very accessible and how some sculptures didn’t relate with our project of the Pendle Witches.

I would recommend this sculpture trail to others because the experience is very different as the art work is made naturally and displayed outside. However some people may not prefer this.

From this experience I have learnt how art can be made from something as simple as tress. I have learnt that people actually make these outdoor sculpture trails.


Franscesca Tomlinson

(I went to) Pendle Sculpture Trail at Aitkin Wood. It was a trail up a hill that included lots of pieces of art made from natural materials. Lots of different artists created them and the main one was Philippe Handford.

I am doing a project on the Pendle Witches and wanted to see if the sculptures showed us more about the witches. I liked to see how much effort people had put in, especially in the sculpture of a made made from a tree bark, because of how detailed it was. I also liked how it was made from natural materials.

I didn’t think the trail was very accessible and it was hard to understand what some of them meant. I also thought eh sculptures were quite dull and could have been better with colour. I would recommend this trail to others if it was a nice day because the sculptures were very raw and natural. However I don’t think it suits everyone.

I learnt that lots of different sculptures and pieces of art can be made from such simple materials that create something with much more meaning than they did in their original form.


Georgina Ward

(The event involved a) talk about the sculpture trail of the Pendle Witches. (I went to this event) to get a better background knowledge of the Pendle Witches). The sculpture trail included many interesting pieces. I particularly like how the bats were hidden in the tress and also the fallen trees. (It was) a little difficult to understand some aspects of the sculpture trail such as the wall. I would (recommend it to others) because it is very interesting and a good day out.

(I learnt) how other people interpret their different views of the Pendle Witches into art. 


Frank Metcalfe

We went to Pendle Sculpture Trail which is in Aitkin Wood. We walked around and looked at artwork by Philippe Handford. The theme is the Pendle Witches. (I went to the event) because I was interested in viewing the artwork of Philippe Handford and exploring the sculpture trail. I did not enjoy the sculpture trail because although good, I didn’t see how the artwork was relevant to the witches and it was quite dull. I enjoyed walking and exploring the woods and liked learning about being a sculpturist. The artwork was very complex and was hard to understand the relevance to the Pendle Witches. I learned about Philippe’s work as an artist and that you could make a career out of sculpture work, which I didn’t know before.


Erin Porter-Brown

We walked around a trail and saw different artwork / sculptures. I went to this event to learn more about the Pendle Witches. (I liked) the different sculptures because they were interesting. (I didn’t like) the weather (and I felt Philippe) didn’t explain it properly. I would recommend it to others because it was really fun and you can learn a lot. I learned lots about the Pendle Witches.


Jodie Walsh

Pendle Sculpture Trail was at Aitkin Wood. Philippe Handford took us around and explained the many art sculptures to us. Many artists were involved in these sculptures. I went to this event because we are doing a ‘Pendle Witches’ project and during this project we wanted to find out more about the stories and how these sculptures showed us more about the witches.  I liked the fact that the sculptures were all outdoors because it gave the art a ‘natural’ feel. I also liked many of the sculptures because they were interesting and different. I didn’t like the fact that some of the art was quite hard to understand because it was very different, also it was not very accessible since it was outside. I would recommend it to other because it was very interesting, especially because someone explained it to us and I felt I learnt a lot. I learnt that the different ways we can make sculptures and how the sculptures tie in with Pendle Witches.


Georgia Robinson

We went on an art sculpture trail, and walked around the woods of Pendle, looking at naturally made objects made by Philippe Handford. (I went to this event) to learn more about the Pendle Witches and visit the area that all of the things occurred in. There was a range in art things. I liked the sculptures which were made naturally out of resources like trees and metal. (I didn’t like) the weather and atmosphere, also I didn’t understand the explanations behind the sculptures. I would (recommend it to others) because then people in the area could learn more about the Pendle Witches and look at the sculptures. I learned more about the Pendle Witches.

Melissa Gaffey

I went to see the Lion King, the artform was theatres. I want to watch the Lion King with my family. (I went to this event) because it was a great experience and I liked the film. (I liked) the animals, the acting, the experience (and that) I knew the story. I didn’t like the long drive. I would recommend it to other people because it is a great experience for families to watch.


Keiran McGaney

We were viewing sculpture that Philippe Handford had made out of natural materials. We went to the event to learn more about the Pendle Witches. I liked it because I learned about the sculptures and I spent the day with my friends. I could not understand the story behind the artwork (but) I would recommend it to keen walker or people who like history. I learnt more about the Pendle Witches.


Louis  Barrett

We walked around Aitken Wood following the Pendle Sculpture Trail. We were given an audio tour from artist Philippe Handford. Its theme was the Pendle Witches. I went to this event because I was very interested to explore the trail. I found it easy to relate to the witches’ story. I liked talking to Philippe and learning about his job and things. Also exploring the artwork and realising how much time went in to making it. I didn’t like the boggy footpath and bad weather. Also I did not like the duration of the tour as it dragged on and got boring. I would recommend it as it was helpful to understand the witches’ story. I learnt more about the witches’ lifestyle and what they did in their life.

Abi Robinson

(I took part in) viewing all of the sculptures that Philippe Handford had made from natural materials. I went to learn more about the Pendle Witches. I liked the creativity and how he made all the sculptures from natural materials. I didn’t like how I couldn’t understand the story behind the artwork. I would recommend this artwork to people who enjoy walking and have an interested in history and art. I learnt more about the Pendle Witches and how different sculptures can be made from natural materials.

Sarah Gullfoyle

We went on a sculpture trail at Aitkin Wood. The artist Philippe Handford led us along the trail explaining his artwork. I went to this event because it was linked to the Pendle Witches project we are working on. I was very natural, all the materials were tree-based after being cut down. All the art being at different heights made it interesting. It wasn’t very accessible or easy to walk around in difficult conditions. I couldn’t really see a link to the Pendle Witches. I would recommend it on a nice day because it was a nice walk and the art was quite eye-catching. I learnt that you can make beautiful and inspiring art out of natural materials.


Olivia Peccerillo

We followed a sculpture trail around Aitkin Wood, and the tour guide was Philippe Handford. He was the artist who made the sculptures, and he explained what they meant. We were involved in a Pendle Witch project and we were going to get more information about the Pendle Witches. I liked the fact that the art was at different heights and different sizes. The location linked to the story about Pendle Witches plus it was a very natural feeling because it was outside in the woods.

I didn’t understand the art, the tour guide and the art didn’t really link to the Pendle Witches. It didn’t involve much about the witches. I would recommend this to others if it was a nicer day, but we did manage to enjoy it even though the weather was bad, which means it would be more enjoyable in better weather. (I learnt) that art could be portrayed in different ways and that artists could use locally sourced materials to create the sculptures. Also that the artists could be paid for doing this.


Catherine Burns

We followed a sculpture trail through Aitken Wood and Philippe Handford, the artist who made the sculptures, explained their meaning to us. We were involved in a project about the Pendle Witches and were learning more about the story and local beliefs about it. I liked the fact that the sculptures were different sizes and some were partly concealed up in the trees. The fact that it was outdoors gave it a natural mood, especially as the location fit in with the Pendle Witches. The art wasn’t very accessible and it was hard to see how some of the pieces linked to the witches. I would (recommend it to others) because we managed to enjoy it even though the weather was bad, which means in good weather it would probably be more enjoyable. (I learnt) that artists can use locally sourced materials to create sculptures that follow a theme, creating pieces of art work for people to interpret themselves about the witches.

Liberty Apricot Turner

(I enjoyed) walking around the wood in the outdoors and observing the learning about different sculptures made by Philippe Handford inspired by the Pendle Witches trail and story. (I went to this event) because I wanted to learn more about the Pendle Witches and also to learn about art. I enjoyed looking at the sculpture of the falling tree as it was creative and made from natural materials. I didn’t like how some sculptures were hard to understand because I like art that tells a story and is interesting. I would recommend it to keen walkers or families as it is a pretty walk and are interested in history. I learnt that art can come from basically anything since before I associated art with paper and pain, now I know it can be more – just basic materials.


Jack Harbour

We walked around Pendle Sculpture Trail. Philippe Handford gave us a tour of the trail. It was in Aitkin Wood and its theme was the Pendle Witches. I went to this event because I was very interested by the artwork was quite hard to understand. I liked some of the artwork because it was really cool. Some of the art was hard to understand and wasn’t relevant. I would recommend it but not all the art. I learnt that the council would pay Philippe to go into the woods and do that sort of thing.


Stephanie Warrington

I went to the Paper Cut Exhibition at Manchester Art Gallery. There was a mixture of art ranging from sculptures like a motorbike and paper like maps made of money. I went to this event because it links to the projects we were doing in class. I liked the life-sized sculptures, different types of art and a man that was made only from books hanging from the ceiling. Some of the paper art were more obscure / difficult to understand. I would recommend it to others because it would appeal to a wide range of people. 

Flickers of the past

As a volunteer at MPA I was excited when I was asked to help with a photo shoot for the upcoming Contemporary Heritage installation at Gawthorpe Hall, Flicker by Catherine Bertola.  I have visited the hall on a couple of occasions and I felt privileged to be able to see behind the scenes and learn about the history of Gawthorpe from some very knowledgable people.

For the first two days of the shoot I tried to be as helpful as possible, getting people into costume and making sure everybody was comfortable.  Two sets of re-enactment groups took part in the project and it was engrossing to see them transform from 21st century people into characters from the 1600’s.  Even more amazing was the way that their transformation created a dramatic change in the space, passing a 17th century physician on the staircase really made you feel like you had gone back in time!

On the third day of the shoot it was my turn.  Early on in the process of selecting the cast for the shoot there was a call for a petite female with dark hair, as I fitted the bill I put myself forward to help.  Little did I know that I would get the chance to dress as a 17th century lady of the manor and wear an incredible dress! I began my day by being strapped into a very small corset and a floor length dress.  I began to realise why ladies had such a need for servants as bending, sitting down and even walking suddenly became very difficult without some help.  Then it was time for the photographs and I really enjoyed chatting to my fellow cast members while trying to ‘look natural’.  The day was a lot of fun even if it was a little chilly and I can’t wait to see the images that come out of it.

Flicker will open on Saturday 23 March and run until October, see Mid Pennine Arts website for details.

Contemporary Heritage: A new way of seeing is an ambitious programme of site-responsive artist commissions at stunning historic sites across Pennine Lancashire.  The commissions, inspired by Pennine Lancashire’s heritage, animate each site and offer visitors a rare chance to experience major works of art by artists of national and international standing outside urban centres.

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